I've been a fan of menu planning for quite some time, and it does save a lot of money compared to eating out. However, before my part-time salary, I didn't spend a lot of time looking for sales. Sure, I would scan the shelf and buy the cheapest version of whatever was on my list, but I really didn't think that coupons and buying on sale would be worth the time and energy they would take. Boy, was I wrong.

If you are trying to get in the routine of menu planning and cooking at home each week, I suggest checking out simplemom's article on the topic. If you have the cooking thing down, read on for how to make it cheaper and better.

Flash back to the full-time work days:
I would sit down each weekend with all my cookbooks to plan the meals for the week. I always hated this task. While my husband waited for the grocery list to go shopping with his brother, I would crankily try to pick from a seemingly infinite array of recipe possibilities. I would often default to the same recipes over and over, because it was a quick way to decide. I hated this weekly task with a vengeance.

Fast forward to part-time salary living:
An online buddy told me about a web site called The Grocery Game (thanks K.C.). Here's the description from their site:

What is The Grocery Game?
The Grocery Game is a website that can save you hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill each month. Log in, spend a few minutes with a pair of scissors, and you're off to win The Grocery Game!

When you play, you'll get a weekly list (called Teri's List) of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers' coupons and weekly specials -- advertised and unadvertised. The Grocery Game does all the hard work and research, and presents it to you in a straightforward format.

Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it's not.

Nowadays, each Sunday morning I wake up and get our Sunday paper and log-on to thegrocery game.com. I get a list of all the items on good or great sale at my local grocery store, along with coupons to use from the Sunday paper. The list tells me which items are a good price if you need them, which are priced to stockpile, and which are free. Yes, just free. I got free salsa just last week.

So instead of an infinite number of recipes to pick from, I choose the recipes based on the fresh meat/fish/produce on sale, and based on what I have stockpiled in my freezer. All of a sudden picking recipes is quick and easy. We make dinners from the fresh sale items early in the week, then make recipes from the freezer later in the week.

Then the real fun begins. I used to hate shopping for groceries so much, which is why I never went with my husband. Now we go as a family and love to find the items on the list, and become giddy with anticipation waiting at the cash to see how much we have saved. We started shopping with "the list" at the end of January, and our sale and coupon savings to date are $795!

Not only are we saving money, but I am saving my marriage by not being a cranky B*%$# each weekend while I plan meals for the week.

Now it's your turn -- Do you have tricks for saving money on groceries? Are you finding benefits besides the $ savings?


  1. If It Barks // July 24, 2008 at 9:14 AM  

    Okay, Martha. I think I'm ready to give the grocery game a try. I've been relying on BJ's and Costco to stock up on things and feel like I'm getting a good deal, but am I really? I'll play the grocery game and compare the price I pay for items I already get to those at the warehouse stores.

    I still like to buy organic and the warehouse stores are offering more and more of those items. I don't see a lot of coupons or sales on those items, so I may end up doing a mix of grocery game shopping and warehouse shopping.